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October 5, 2013

Horses' futures hang on court decision

WESTPORT — One of the 41 horses seized from an Essex Farm a few weeks ago had a serious eye injury; another had a piece of barbed wire caught in its teeth, authorities say.

Their owner, Shelley Wing, is due in Town Court at 3:30 p.m. Monday to face 41 counts of failing to provide sustenance in violation of Agriculture and Markets law, all misdemeanor charges.

Meanwhile, the ongoing care of the animals is proving costly as courts review criminal and civil animal abuse charges.

“There is great need to raise money for the care of these horses,” said Town of Essex Supervisor Sharon Boisen, who also serves on the county’s Animal Cruelty Task Force.

Essex County is currently managing the herd seized from Wing and a Prayer Farm.

The horses were taken with a court warrant in mid September; 31 are housed at the Essex County Fairgrounds.

Friday, Boisen said she could not confirm the medical conditions of the horses, citing the ongoing investigation.

The horses and their condition is essentially evidence in the case.

Eddie Mrozik of Crane Mountain Valley Horse Rescue, a registered horse-rescue farm in Westport, did say earlier this week that the equines are gaining weight and their health has improved since they were rescued a few weeks ago.

‘URGENT MEDICAL NEEDS’

Minutes from recent Animal Cruelty Task Force meetings shed some light on the challenges local horse farms, volunteers and veterinarians have faced with the magnitude of the seizure.

On Sept. 20, shortly after the animals were removed from the Wing farm, the Task Force reviewed costs, outlining some of the medical concerns involved.

Nancy Van Wie, founder of Crane Horse Rescue, suggested the cost could amount to at least $40,000 per month for just routine medical care, not including emergency care, feed and hay.

“They all need to be de-wormed immediately for the distended bellies, and that’s an aggressive de-worming schedule of four different types of worms,” Van Wie said at the onset of seizure.

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